x Abu Dhabi, UAEWednesday 17 January 2018

Recruits wanted in piracy war

Ombudsman wants more maritime security agencies to join association for a coordinate anti-piracy response.

DUBAI // A global regulatory body wants more of the region's maritime security agencies to become members and improve protection of ships and crews from piracy.

The Security Association for the Maritime Industry (Sami) has about 180 companies from 35 nations registered as members, including security trainers and consultants, and makers of security equipment and technology.

"It's important for maritime security to grow in this area because security at sea is a global concern," said Peter Cook, a security director of Sami.

"We need to educate and involve security companies so they ... develop a strong understanding of counter-piracy measures."

The organisation also provides guidance, educational literature and training for the industry.

There are only six private security companies registered as UAE businesses, but several members with offices in other parts of the world operate here.

Sami experts were in Dubai last week for a shipping conference, where they hoped to meet security companies in the region. A key focus of the conference was to discuss the use of force when dealing with an attack by pirates.

Sami estimates there are about 1,200 armed transits through the Indian Ocean every month. No ship with armed guards has yet been successfully hijacked.

Despite a drop in raids - EU figures show 35 attacks by the end of October compared with 176 last year - the emphasis was on the need to stay vigilant.

"There should be rules for the use of force. If each company has a different set of rules, it can be very confusing," Mr Cook said.

"Rules protect individuals using firearms ... because the security team understands when they can fire and the [captain] understands why they have reached a particular point in an attack."

Security companies are advised to follow International Maritime Organisation recommendations such as warning pirates with flares and megaphones, then firing in the air and into the water.